The Commission took the following actions at its Quarterly Commission Meeting on January 15, 2015:
2015 Economic Forecast
Chief Economist Greg Grootendorst provided the annual economic forecast, which looks at indicators of regional economic growth as compared with the state and the nation. Encouraging signs include a rising GDP, employment recovery and declining foreclosures. Retail spending is expected to increase as gas prices continue to drop.
Ben McFarlane, Senior Regional Planner, presented background and definitions regarding the importance of increasing freeboard requirements across the region as one method of addressing recurrent flooding and sea level rise. The Commission approved a resolution encouraging localities in Hampton Roads to consider adopting new or higher freeboard requirements on public and private property.
Principal Water Engineer, Whitney Katchmark briefed the Commission on two alternatives for gathering better data regarding land subsidence in Hampton Roads. Both the HRPDC Special Committee on Recurrent Flooding and Sea Level Rise and the Directors of Utilities Committee recommended cost-sharing with USGS to assess the best and most cost-effective methods of monitoring land subsidence. The resulting report could then be used to support requests for state funding or future grant opportunities. The Commission approved moving forward on this effort.
Hampton Roads Intergovernmental Planning Pilot Project
Randy Keaton, Interim Executive Director, briefed the Commission on the Hampton Roads Intergovernmental Planning Pilot Project. The goal of the pilot project is to provide Hampton Roads with intergovernmental planning and procedures that can effectively coordinate the sea level rise preparedness and resilience planning of Federal, Commonwealth and local government agencies and the private sector. The Commission approved the HRPDC assuming a leadership role in the Pilot Project by having the Commission Chair, Vice Chair or other designated Commissioner, serve as voting members on the Pilot Project Steering Committee, and having HRPDC Staff serve on Working Groups and Advisory Committees as directed by the Interim Executive Director. The Interim Executive Director shall ensure close coordination between the Intergovernmental Pilot Project and the HRPDC Special Committee on Recurrent Flooding and Sea Level Rise, and other HRPDC standing committees as appropriate.
Ms. Donna Sayegh of Portsmouth expressed her frustration with what she described as increased bureaucracy and decreasing citizen voices. She urged the Commission to exercise some boundaries and control.
Mr. Ellis James of Norfolk praised Governor McAuliffe’s State of the Commonwealth address and its lack of partisan attack rhetoric. Mr. James stressed the importance of finding bipartisan solutions for major issues such as fracking and its impacts to water supply planning.
The following items were approved under the Consent Agenda:
There being no other business, the meeting was adjourned.